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John E Henning

 .. of Emporia, Kansas and later Chicago, was a prominent banjoist in American fretted instrument circles in the 1880’s. In 1885 he conceived the novel idea of attaching the banjo’s 5th string peg to the tailpiece “thereby removing the projection from the banjo neck and allowing more freedom in left hand manipulation”.

Another of his improvements was the “steel neck stiffener” which was fixed to the base of the banjo heel and ran across the hoop to just below the tailpiece bolt.

In July 1892 he patented his “Grand solo banjo” which has a 10” hoop, twenty four frets, and included a steel brace in the neck ”to prevent warping”. Henning was not the actual maker of instruments bearing his name, they were probably made for him by JB Schall and/or Washburn.

In 1897 he issued a banjo magazine called “The Chicago Trio” and organised a mammoth BM&G Orchestra, both of which he used to publicise the banjos bearing his name. Eventually he moved to Los Angeles and died there in the 1930’s. It is perhaps interesting to recall that early in his career he acquired the Sweeney banjo now in the Los Angeles County Museum which he left to them in his will.

It now appears from the makers logo on this banjo that he also at some time worked out of Meridian, Mississippi.

Images courtesy of Kris Stroda who's Great Grandfather owned this banjo.

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